Gershom Gorenberg

Gershom Gorenberg is a senior correspondent for The Prospect. He is the author of The Unmaking of Israel, of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977 and of The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount. He blogs at South Jerusalem. Follow @GershomG.

Recent Articles

It Doesn’t Add Up

Israeli arguments about the precise number of Palestinians are a distraction. Occupation is undemocratic no matter how many or few there are.

Wissam Nassar/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
How many Jews live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean? How many Palestinians live in that same small strip of land? The question erupts irregularly, repeatedly, and inevitably in Israeli politics, like symptoms of a serious, misdiagnosed disease. The latest outbreak came when a meeting of a Knesset committee veered off-topic. The session was devoted to a labor dispute in Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank, which is responsible for all sorts of government services, both to Palestinians living under occupation and to Israeli settlers. The small size of the overworked, underpaid Civil Administration staff led a committee member to ask how many Palestinians live in the West Bank. “We estimate 2.5 to 2.7 million,” responded Colonel Uri Mendes, No. 2 in the military office, known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, responsible for civilian aspects of occupation. The Palestinian Authority, Mendes said, has three million...

Tell Old Netanyahu: Let These People Stay

Stopping Israel's expulsion of refugees would take a small miracle. This is the right time to make one.

Everything is on hold in Israel. The holiday of Passover begins Friday night and lasts a week. Until it's over the answer of every government office to every possible question is “after the holiday.” Normally this is cause from frustration, despair, and multilingual Middle Eastern cursing. This year it's reason for a small, flickering, uncertain but welcome hope. The exodus, it seems, has been postponed until after the holiday. By exodus, I do not mean the departure of the ancient Israelites from Pharaoh's Egypt. That will be celebrated as it is every year, on Passover. Rather, I'm referring to the exodus of some 38,000 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees who crossed the Sinai from Egypt to seek asylum in present-day Israel. Under a government policy government announced at the start of the year, most of them were to face a cruel choice as of April 1: Leave for an unnamed African country—Rwanda, and perhaps also Uganda—that had contracted with Israel to take them,...

The Nativist Didn't Return. He Was Waiting Here All Along

A new exhibition of photographs of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II sheds light on the same racial nativism fueling Trumpism.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
The children are no older than seven. They're standing in a schoolyard, hands on their hearts. The picture is black and white—which, by the paradox of photography, exposes emotion more sharply than color could: Their faces are serious, innocent, luminescent. The place is San Francisco. The date is April 20, 1942. The children are Japanese American. They are about to be shipped with their families to incarceration camps. For how long, they cannot know. A young man sits on an upended piece of firewood. He's in shadow; the farmyard beyond is in light. He has turned mostly away from us, face down. It's a perfectly composed shot of pastoral America—except that the caption tells us his bags are packed for the journey to the camp. The pictures are part of the exhibition , “Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II,” currently at New York's International Center of Photography. Some of America's outstanding camera artists created the...

Democracy Can Also Die in the Bright Glow of the Screen

Corruption allegations against Benjamin Netanyahu fit an autocratic pattern of trying to create media that serve the national leader.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
When the Israeli police recommended this week that Benjamin Netanyahu be tried for bribery, it was like a long-delayed train pulling into the station. We knew it was coming; we were only wondering how long we'd have to wait. True, the police added some details to make you shake your head in disbelief, like the nice round figure of one million shekels (over a quarter million dollars) worth of champagne, cigars, and jewelry that Netanyahu and family allegedly received from a pair of businessmen. How, you have to wonder, does someone actually consume that many cigars, that many bottles of bubbly? How do you survive that much cigar smoke? Still, the wholesale supply of luxuries gives an impression of conventional corruption: A powerful official does favors for a rich person—a tax break here, help getting a foreign visa there—so that the politician can live nearly as well as the zillionaires he hangs out with. This impression of garden-variety corruption is mistaken, though...

Requiem for a Storm

The Israeli poet Haim Gouri, who died last week, made conflicted idealism into a 94-year-long work of art.

He was our national poet, Israel's poet laureate, so everyone said the day that he surprised us by dying, because by age 94 it seemed that Haim Gouri had decided to outlive not only his own generation but the ones after, to yellow and dry and live forever like a manuscript surviving from a lost era. The president eulogized him, voice cracking, quoting lines Gouri wrote 70 years ago about fallen soldiers. Even the adolescently cynical TV critic who wanted to mock the mourning decried Gouri for founding “the national religion of grief,” citing the same poem. Gouri was indeed the unofficial national poet. But not in the very narrow way that people have described him since he died last week, mostly quoting the same canonical poems and lyrics he wrote as a very young man about Israel's war of independence in 1948—about legendary battles, the camaraderie of the living with the dead, and the corpses strewn in the fields who would return in spring as cyclamens and anemones...